Women hold nearly 17.1 per cent of the board seats in India, the seventh edition of Deloitte Global's Women in the boardroom report revealed. This number increased by 9.4 per cent from the 2014 edition, the year when the Companies Act, 2013, made it mandatory to have one woman member on every board. Moreover, only 3.6 per cent of the board chairs are women, down by 0.9 per cent since 2018.
Globally, women held 19.7 per cent of the board seats, a rise of 2.8 per cent since 2018 compared to 1.9 per cent over 2016−2018. The world could expect to reach near parity at this pace only in 2045. Canada, Ireland, Austria, Italy, Portugal, Poland, Spain, the US, and the UK saw the most remarkable increases.
Number Of Women CEOs Increasing
Although India witnessed a decrease in board chairs held by women in 2021, it saw an increase in the number of women taking up CEO roles − 4.7 per cent female CEOs against 3.4 per cent reported in 2018.
Deloitte Global's research revealed a positive correlation between appointing a female CEO and the diversity on the board.
Globally, companies with women CEOs have significantly more women on their boards than those run by men − 33.5 per cent vs 19.4 per cent respectively. The statistics are similar for companies with female chairs (30.8 per cent women on boards vs 19.4 per cent respectively). The inverse is true − gender-diverse boards are more likely to appoint a female CEO and board chair, The Times of India reported.
"While the Indian regulators have set up a holistic framework to encourage the representation of women in key positions at corporates, the numbers suggest a significant gap between the ideated measures and ground realities. With the continuing disruption and the current pace of change, the case for diverse boards that work with a unified purpose is becoming stronger than it ever was. It is time that gender diversity and gender parity get more focused attention from Indian corporations", says Atul Dhawan, chairperson, Deloitte India.
Other key findings of the report reveal additional challenges for women in the boardroom.
Lesser women are serving on more boards. Deloitte Global's stretch factor metric examines how many board seats a person holds in a particular market. The higher the stretch factor, the greater the board seats the same director occupies in each market.
Last year, the stretch factor for women increased slightly from the 2018 figure of 1.22 to 1.30 in India. It indicates that a smaller group of women are taking on many more board seats compared to men. In comparison, men have a stretch factor of 1.20.
The countries with the highest stretch factor for women—Australia (1.43), the US (1.33), and New Zealand (1.32)—have eschewed quotas in favour of voluntary approaches, such as non-binding targets. Meanwhile, the European countries that were early adopters of quotas have much lower stretch factors for women directors. In certain cases, the element was equal to that of men globally.
In India, the average tenure of women directors marginally increased from 5.0 years in 2018 to 5.1 years in 2021.
Globally, the number declined from 5.5 years in 2018 to 5.1 years in 2021, especially in markets, like the US (from 6.3 years in 2018 to 5.3 years in 2021), Canada (5.7 years to 5.2 years) and the UK (4.1 years to 3.6 years in 2021).
The latest edition of the report includes updates from 72 nations on the representation of women in the boardroom, deciphering the social, political, and legislative trends behind these numbers.
The report highlights that nearly all countries have local organisations or governments committed to increasing the number of women serving on company boards. Although these joint efforts by the private and public sectors are geared towards achieving parity, the pace of collective progress needs to pick up.